The owners of the former Holy Angels Academy building in North Buffalo are looking for a charter school or other new academic tenant for the Hertel Avenue site.
Just a few months after Carl P. Paladino’s Ellicott Development Co. bought the school building at a public auction, McGuire Development Co. this week bought a 50 percent stake in the property. The two developers are now working to market, lease and redevelop it.
“The school was so well-maintained by Holy Angels,” said James F. Dentinger, president of McGuire Development. “We have to give them credit. The building was impeccably managed and maintained, so it really is in move-in condition.”
Dentinger said the goal is to find another academic user such as a charter school or possibly a use for higher education.
In particular, he said, the struggles of the Buffalo Public Schools are driving interest in finding alternatives. “There’s great interest with the waiting list of kids to transfer out, and great interest in expanding some of the charter schools that are stronger,” he said. “That’s just a perfect building. The gym is brand-new. It has some nice elements. And most of the charters are dealing with different buildings, not schools, and spending a lot of money on fix-ups. This building would allow them to quickly focus on getting kids in there.”
The building has more than 30 classrooms, a new library and an auditorium that seats more than 800, as well as a gym that was upgraded in 2007. The gym, now being rented by Nardin Academy, offers the ability to have two basketball courts side by side, and to host multiple events. There also is on-site parking.
Ellicott Development CEO William A. Paladino, son of Carl Paladino, has previously said that the company has users in mind for the facility and that “a lot of schools are talking to us.” He added that other options are also on the table for converting it for non-school use. In fact, the other main bidder at the auction, David E. Pawlik of Creative Structure Services, had planned to turn it into 45 apartments.
The former all-girls Catholic school abruptly closed last June after 152 years, a victim of declining enrollment and deteriorating finances. The Paladinos bought the building at a public auction in August for $2.9 million, and now McGuire has acquired a 50 percent stake in the facility. McGuire will also manage the building and 5.37-acre property.
“Our partnership with McGuire Development allows us to tap into each other’s strengths to ensure the right tenant is paired with the facility,” William Paladino said. “With so many potential reuse opportunities, our aim is to find the solution that works best for the community.”
McGuire and Ellicott have a history of working together on projects, but this is the first joint venture in more than eight years for the two firms. Previous examples have included 506 Delaware Ave., which is McGuire’s current headquarters, as well as the FBI Headquarters in Buffalo and the New York State Department of Transportation building on Seneca Street.
Dentinger said McGuire had originally planned to bid at the auction but decided against it. Ellicott then reached out to the company afterward about a joint venture, which was finalized Monday.
“We’ve worked with Carl in the past,” Dentinger said. “We were looking for an opportunity to get back with Carl, and this seemed appropriate.”